Philly Creative Guide

Guest Columnist

Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr

Brand Integration Delivers Real Customer Value
by Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr , 1 May 2009

Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr. is Managing Partner at 20nine, an Integrated Brand Agency located in Conshohocken, here he oversees creative direction for the firm's extensive client list, which includes colleges & universities, nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies, banks and retail establishments. Projects for clients range from branding and development, to e-commerce and full database web integration.

Under his direction, 20nine has been recognized as one of Philadelphia's fastest growing companies, is among the Philadelphia Business Journal's list of top advertising agencies in metro Philadelphia and has earned both Philly Gold and Philly Silver Awards for their website and print work.

Visit 20nine online at:

I'm a member of a local Beer of the Month club. I took the time to seek the group out after visiting a local brewery and signed up for their newsletter. This week's newsletter included a link to their Facebook page, which I became a fan of and received a coupon for a case of their latest brew. In addition, I receive regular tweets from the club with updates on upcoming beers, events and general beer lover tidbits. I'm a happy consumer. Although I would like to write a whole story on beer, I'm actually writing about brand integration, which, in this case ties in pretty well together. Do a Google search on the term "brand integration" and you'll find over 55,000 results. There might be a good explanation or two in there, but when you get down to it, brand integration is just this – incorporating your organization's message into every forum where your audience is.

Traditional advertisers may say that ad creation, direct mail pieces and static websites effectively communicate a company's message. However, today consumers are savvy. They don't want to hear you tell them that you've got the best beer in town. They want to hear it from their best friend who writes a beer blog, or their uncle who brews his own in the basement. While traditional advertising and direct mail might include a brand message, it's not engaging consumers. It's no longer enough for a company to say they're doing something; they need to actually show consumers that they are doing it and engaging customers along the way. Consumers are sophisticated and have a wide range of online options available to them. If your site doesn't deliver real value, customers may visit once, but won't return.

Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr | Managing Partner at 20nine

Case in point, we recently began working with a hospital that is making a big push for more new-mom patients. In doing our research we found that, according to Gallup, patients today are more informed about care options and provider abilities, more vocal about their expectations for care, and more empowered to "shop around" for the best healthcare provider possible. In addition, through researching some of the tens of thousands of mom blogs and doing various Twitter searches on the subject we found what you might expect – that more moms and moms-to-be are going online to get information about their pregnancy than are seeking information from traditional sources, such as their OBGYN. Our client needed to be a part of this.

Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr | Managing Partner at 20nine

With this in mind we created a website that includes an OB portal where moms-to-be and new-moms can interact easily with the hospital. The portal allows for future moms to create a personal page and includes a section where they can track their baby's development, follow a personal pregnancy check list, watch educational videos and manage their physician appointments. The key to the success of this site is the engagement of the users.

Integrating a brand message across all forums where customers hang out may sound like a pretty simple concept, but it's important for us as marketers to communicate to our clients that this is an investment; not necessarily of money, but of time. Creating a Facebook page might be easy and fun, but keeping it updated, relevant and providing content that will keep not only current fans coming back but new fans joining takes strategy and planning. Integrated branding agencies take the time to work with clients to define messaging, decide on the best social media outlets to engage consumers and create strategies in which these engage consumers share the brand message. Once a commitment to brand integration has been made, you will find the true value in engagement.

Print Article Brought to you by: Gregory J. Ricciardi, Jr  | Managing Partner at 20nine

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